Performance Reviews

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jan 20 2011

A friend of mine emailed to tell me she had just gotten out of her performance review. She was relieved it was over and heading to Starbucks for a coffee. As the owner of BookEnds, I don’t have performance reviews anymore, and, frankly, in publishing I only had a few. That being said, I kind of wish I still did.

I’ve learned a lot from my blog readers about what you’re looking for in an agent and a lot about ways I can change my processes to make things easier for authors. Because of you I’ve added an auto-response to all queries I receive and I have altered my rejection letter. Because of my clients and their needs I work hard to update myself monthly on where each of my clients is at, and if I haven’t talked with someone in a while I check in just to see how things are going.

Wouldn’t it be nice though to sit with each client once a year, not just to talk about the client’s plans and goals, but to learn more about what is needed from me, what I can do to help achieve those goals. I have had wonderfully communicative clients who are good at telling me what they need, but with others I’m not always so sure.

So, authors, even though you don’t have set performance reviews with your agents, I think it can be truly beneficial to both of you to include those sorts of discussions when you meet up at conferences or talk over the phone. Now that I don’t officially have performance reviews I can see how truly beneficial they can be to helping me become a better agent.


10 responses to “Performance Reviews”

  1. Avatar Cynthia says:

    I would have tought that was done when an agent signed on a client. I'm surprised it isn't. It is so important to sit down and talk about where the author wants to go, and for the agent to inform the author where he/she hopes the author wants to go. Thank you for taking the time to listen to your followers and clients. It's feels good knowing you support our efforts. 🙂

  2. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Just another reason why you're on the top of my list of agents to query :o) It's very refreshing to hear of an agent willing to make changes to better serve clients AND queriers. Commuication, respect, and honesty are very important to me- in all stages of the process.

  3. Avatar Sean says:

    As anon 8:53 said, today's blog is refreshing. After scouring dozens of agent blogs over the past year, it sure seems like they can get too busy to keep up on this kind of service. Bet it's a tough juggling act though.

    Thanks for the insight!

  4. Is there a reason you couldn't set up something like this with your clients? You could even include it in the contract when signing new ones. I'm sure most of your clients would be happy to oblige and let you know what you're doing well and what more they might need from you. It might even make them feel more comfortable doing the latter, by removing any fear that you might drop them if they have displeasure to voice.

  5. Avatar Eileen says:

    Every year my agent and I do a sort of "state of the union" talk, we go over what happened in the past year, highs and lows, goals for the coming year etc. It's a great way for me to set goals and share them and if there are any issues then we know they have been aired

  6. Must say, you sound like an awesome agent! As an editor, it's great to know that there are wonderful, nurturing agents out there.

  7. Avatar jfaust says:


    I do touch base with my clients every year, especially if I see them in person, to discuss goals, etc and, frankly, I do try to talk to them frequently throughout the year to keep them updated. I think the trick though is that not all authors are comfortable having the "review" talk. They are happy to talk about what they want, but to really say to me, I wish you'd do this or change that, etc, etc can be difficult. My point here is that I think authors need to know that it's not only okay, but good to have that conversation.


  8. My company has upwards and lateral "review" processes – it's been really helpful to open up communication in a structured way. I think you'll be pleased.

  9. I agree. I think evaluations are healthy and productive. I give them and I can tell you that I give them a lot of thought. My goal is to help those who work for me do the best work of their lives. I want to know how I can help them achieve the goals we've agreed to. It's all about communicating. Right on girlfriend!

  10. Avatar Kate says:

    This is so nice – and so refreshing. Authors and aspiring authors obviously appreciate that you share your knowledge and experience by taking so much time to blog, but it's super-nice to see this reminder that you do actually care about authors and don't just blog as an ego thing.

    That said, I started my own company last year (as an ego thing) and can safely say that lack of performance reviews is one of my top five favorite benefits of self-employment!